tv Charlie Rose WHUT August 16, 2012 10:00am-11:00am EDT
>> rose: welcome to our program. tonight a special edition, the charlie rose brain series, year two, and a third episode we focus on, they are selective deficiencies in consciousness or con i cognition. >> i was trying to understand the aphasias and commit them to memory of those i know and love anfor me, it has to be flattened out, once it is flattened out, i can commit it to memory in a way i can't if i am looking at you, if you move your head half an inch, it is a whole new head i haven't seen. >> rose:. >> it is confusing fund forget
in it they coined a term agnosia, by that he meant that people in a variety of spheres have difficulty knowing exactly what the object is. it is a deficiency in knowledge. so for example, a person with visual agnosia may look at this cup, see that it is white, see that it is round, see that it sits flat, they would not realize it is a cup for drinking. this amazing insight that you can have a selective defect in knowledge, agnosia, has stayed with us to the present time.
more over, what pleased freud even more than realizing this terminology persisted was that although we don't know the mechanism for most types of agnosia, one kind of model that is being actively entertained right now is one that we considered last time, could i have the next image, please? last time we pointed out that perception really occurs in two phases, and unconscious perception and conscious perception. in the unconscious perception, what you do is you light up the back of the brain as indicated here, so if you look at an object the visual area, the primary visual area maybe some of the surrounding areas light up, but you are really not consciously aware of it. when you become consciously aware of the information, the information propagates the forecast in the front of the brain and thought that certain kinds of agnosias, the difficulty is moving the information from its initial reception to its further propagation, to the anterior
parts of the brain. now, there are clearly many different forms of agnosia, and i don't know is going to outline the different, four major types and particularly focus on people who have difficulty perceiving the defect of the illness, being unaware of the symptoms they have it although they are obvious to every one around. he specializes in neglect, going to describe to us many forms of that and there are some fascinating aspects of that. these are, for example, cases in which manager is right in front of you but for a variety of reasons you don't notice it. it is fascinating example of pending neglect which you have a leagues of the brain in which you don't see the opposite side of the world so when you draw something you really only draw half of the image and not the other image so we will hear about the various kinds of
defects we see with these agnosias. >> richard has pioneered the use of functional resonance imaging and done a lot of very important work with it and that is particularly important for allowing us to understand perceptions of aphasias. >> may i have the next image, please? one of the really interesting agnosias and one we will hear about from chuck close is blindness of face. called prosopagnosia. this is people can recognize all kinds of objects but they have difficulty recognizing a face. and this is discovered in around 1947 by botomer who has several patients, one patient because young guy who was shot in the head, survived, everything came back, all of his visual senses, his memory, everything but he had difficulty with one thing. he could not recognize faces.
he couldn't recognize his family. couldn't recognize -- he couldn't recognize his own image when he looked inhe mirror. he realized that there are different forms of agnosias, of prosopagnosias, they are some what familiar to each other. he saw two patients who had the same thing. after time, he came along and realized there are two forms, a congenital form and acquired form. he studied the acquire form, the congenital form, which is what chuck close suffers from, is actually quite common. so two and a half percent of the people have a significant form of prosopagnosia, mild forms of prosopagnosia may be ten percent of the population, we also know that it occurs in the testimony federal cortex, it is suggested we have good evidence for it and if you examine different people with prosopagnosia, you realize that they really can differ from
one another, in a significant way, suggesting that there isn't simply a single site for face recognition, but a number of processing steps which can be selectively accepted, may i have the next image, please? >> livingston and his colleagues did a wonderful set of experiments to test this notion. they looked in the temporal cortex. and they showed monkeys, and later they confirmed this in people, images of faces, and they lit up not one area, but five different face patches, more over in the monkey they could record from them electrically and stimulate one and activate the others, showing it is an interconnected system. they can now record from individual face patches and they could show that when you showed a monkey, an image of a monkey or image of a human, the cells in that patch would fire like mad. they can then use a cartoon of that face and it would fire like mad, but then they discovered this follows a gestalt
principle, if you simply guy the face at all, the cells stop responding so if you have an outline of the face and just two eyes and a mouth, the cells don't respond. so this is, the whole is more than the sum of the parts you have to see the whole face or at least a significant part of it in order to get the cells to respond. and they were able to show that several interesting features that explain our visual perception of faces, you can see in these face patches, we respond dramatically to cartoon's exaggeration of faces, these cells go wild if you exaggerate a face if you spread the eyes apart or bring the eyes together again. and of course your and my favorite prosopagnosia is right here. >> right. >> this man is absolutely remarkable, not only is he face blind, but he is a spectacular portrait artist, can you imagine making this your profession when you have a difficulty time perceiving it? and chuck will tell us how he does this despite
the fact that he has a significant handicap. but i think in a larger sense and one of the reasons you and i admire him so much is he shows really the depth of human intelligence, creativity and character. it tells you, must be one, there is not a single kind of intelligence, there are multiple intelligences there is not a single kind of creativity, you can be creative in a number of ways and he as, has implied this and we talked about it in another context that being handicapped in some areas may allow the plasticity of the brain to emerge and to give you new capabilities that you might otherwise not have. so we will have a chance to, have check tell us about his gift, so we are in for a terrific session. >> rose: let me begin with john. >> as we just heard agnosia is a failure to recognize what one touches or sees. >> rose: right. or hears. despite adequate tactile sensation, vision or hearing. and tactile is, as eic just
said, might produce somebody who blindfolded is handed a key and can describe its shape and its size and its properties, but has no idea what it is. he opens his eyes and then right away he recognizes what it is. visual agnosia may be the other way around. there is a case report from long ago in which a woman did not recognize visually what a car was, but it was put inzed what . there are a variety of auditory agnosias. pure word deafness affects people who have normal speech and they can read, but they can't understand anything that is said to them. agnosia for environmental sounds affects people who cannot recognize a dog barking. >> rose: right. >> or an alarm clock ringing.
or sneezing or laughing. there are a variety of music agnosias, so-called amusias and the best recognized there is so-called tone-deafness. these are people who not only cannot carry a tune, but they don't -- but they don't recognize if you give a tune and alter it or make it dissonant they don't recognize anything is wrong. they may not -- if it is severe be able to tell which of two pitches is higher than the other. >> rose: yes. >> i think one of the most fascinating agnosias, though, is the long name agnosia which refers to the ability to recognize that anything with newer, that anything was neurologically wrong, and a spectacular form of this is agnosia for one side of your body being paralyzed. somebody with a stroke might
have complete paralysis of the left arm and leg and not know. and when it is pointed out, refuses to recognize it. >> say it doesn't belong to them. and -- raise your righ raise yom and nothing happens why didn't you raise the left arm. i did. >> yeah. or you say raise the left arm and the right goes up. or you say well why didn't you raise your left arm, well, i have got arthritis in my shoulder. and they make excuses. they try to get out of it. and it is important that -- to recognize, this is not a psychological denial. >> rose: right. >> this is not the woman with the breast lump who doesn't go to the doctor. they do not recognize it. but what is also interesting about this and freud made this point and i should emphasize it is the perception is normal so this is a higher order defect in
conscious knowledge,. >> there is also agnosia for blindness. it is called anton syndrome and these patient it is blindness is usually from a problem in the back of the brain, not the eyes. but they think they can see, and they can, and they confab late and you say let's see you walk and plow into the table you say well if you see why did you walk into the table. and if you had hadn't turned the lights out on me i wouldn't have. right? >> rose: so what has gone on here in terms of neuroscience? there is a break in the pathway from a leagues or stroke or something? >> well, have you ever thought about, one doesn't quite know what the mechanism is in many of these cases. the sensory apparatus is normal there is something defective higher on, and one hypothesis that is being entertained for simple cases is that the movement in the brain from the early stage of perception, the
broadcasting function to the conscious one is disturbed. >> rose: gotcha. go ahead. >> well, i wanted -- i want to finish with agnosia for aphasia, and i have a video that will illustrate this. aphasia is a language disturbance, and it may affect the ability to produce speech properly or the ability to comprehend speech properly. and this tape is of a woman who had both. you are going to think she is speak ago foreign language, and she does have an accent but she is speaking english and i was told by ron lazar a psychologist who loaned me this tape she speaks excellent english before her stroke. but to me, the most fascinating part of this tape is that she doesn't recognize that she doesn't make any sense and she doesn't recognize that she
doesn't understand. now i am going to ask you to do a couple of things. okay? can you close your eyes. >> open your eyes. show me two fingers. two fingers. >> okay. now. watch. two fingers. can you showe that? >> so you see, she doesn't recognize what she doesn't recognize. and if you find that philosophically daunting, i
think you should. >> rose: but there is a common theme here. >> yes. >> rose: go ahead. >> well, this is a striking syndrome we see commonly after right hemisphere stroke, people who have had a stroke on the right side of the brain. and these patients are unaware of objects to the left side. you can have a person on the left side that will be unaware of them. food on the left side of the plate can be neglected. and if you ask patients like this to draw objects, like in the image i would like to call up now you can see that these patients may miss out things on the left side. they can miss out the left be side of the body, the left side of the clock, the wheel on the left side of the bicycle. all of this is happening with the primary sensory apparatus intact, so the eyes are functioning normally, the primary visual cortex at the back of the brain which is from the eyes is functioning normally
but these patients are unaware of objects to their left. and neglect isn't just for vision, it extends into touch and hearing and fascinatingly can also extend into people's way of imagining things. so this is a famous study that was performed by eduardo biziac a neuropsychologist from milan, and he asked his right hemisphere stroke patients to imagine the central cathedra square, in the value of milan, from their hospital beds, just imagine thinking about that square, and he said imagine looking at the square from this viewpoint, right towards the cathedral. and tell me what you can remember about the square. and those patients could recollect the roads, the cafes, the shops on the right-hand side of the square but they neglected
to mention the stores, the roads on the left hand side. so neglect also occurs for mental imagery, just being able to draw up a picture of a scene, but biziac was clever, imagine you walked to the cathedral and you look back at us from the door so now looking back at us. what can you remember about the square now? >> and remarkably these patients would say that they could recollect things on the side of the square that just had been, they had just been neglecuud so from that vantage point, left and right is reversed, they could remember things that they hadn't previously remembered, they negative flecked, so what is happening there is, that all of the information about both sides of the square is present in the brain, but they can't access it, they can't access consciously their view of the
left side regardless of which viewpoint they are thinking about the square. and so that is a recurring theme in neglect research is that information can be in the brain, can have gained access but in the going to reach conscious awareness unless something else happens, and eric mentioned this theory that you need to broadcast a larger areas of the brain to gain consciousness, and functional imaging here can help us, so this is a slide he of a patient's brain who is being presented something on the left side, the patient is unaware of this object, but what we can see is activity in the back of the brain, in the primary visual areas of the brain, so the patient's eyes saw this object on the left, parts of the patient's brain as we can seesaw this object on the left, but the patient wasn't able to be aware of it. so there is more to being aware of objects than just seeing with your eyes, or seeing with the
back of your brain, you need more to be consciously aware of objects. >> one thing that is -- is important sort of to discuss is that the area that lights up is, is the primary receiving area of the cortex is part of the visual system but the visual system extends beyond that, a huge swath of the cortex which is inverted vision because it is so important for the human brain. >> rose: let me come back to why, i keep asking the same question i asked earlier. john, what -- why? >> well, i think actually the other way to think about it is, what does this tell us about how our own brains work. >> rose: better. >> so we are bombarded with information all the time. >> rose: right. >> senses are completely overwhelmed with information. and the brain haslimited capacity. we can't take in all of that information nor would we wish it to take in all of that information because most of it isn't frankly useful. so what we want to do is to
select the information that is important, to get into that limited capacity system. now, to give you an example, the fact that we don't actually see everything that is presented to our eyes, and we have a blindness movie, so two images back-to-back, and most people don't see the change between these two images, most of us are looking at the soldiers going on to the plane but the change here is occurring in the engine between the images, and that shows us that although our eyes see the image, the back of our brain, the primary visual areas sees the image, but we aren't aware of that change, because we are highly selective and only taking in certain bit of the information that is hitting our sensory system. and that bit is the one, the bit of information that we attend to and usually that is the information that reaches conscious awareness. >> rose: and when you say taking in you mean what?
>> so in terms of sensory stimulation, our eyes are obviously being hit by, also with information all the time. >> rose: our brain is recording it. >> our brain is recording it but it isn't sufficient because we are only going to take up a little bit of that information because that's the only bit that we think is important. and in this case we are looking at those guys coming up on to the plane, rather than looking at the airplane engine, because we are not really interested in airplane engines. >> rose: the brain is aware but the patient is not. >> exactly. >> it makes for an interesting point. we spoke before about how creative the brain is, that the eye gets limited information about your face, and reconstructs this in part by memory that exists top down processing as well as bottom up processing and taking some guesses here and there, but in addition to restructuring it, part of the creative process is omitting things that are not important for every day
perception, and this is what agnosia hits in this case. and the greater the clutter. >> right. >> rose: the competition? >> yes. i think one of the interesting things we have learned is that again from neglect patients is that items are out there competing for our attention. >> rose: right. >> sometimes something wins and sometimes something loses but what we find in neglect is that the playing field is skewed, everything on the left is at a disadvantage to be selected, compared to things on the right. which win in this selection. so here is the patient who has been given a piece of paper and asked to find all of the lines on here, cross out all of the lines you can and you can see she has found half of them on this sheet of paper. okay. >> rose: and all on the right. >> all on the right. now here there are only these lines defined, but now she is, has been given something more
difficult. so here, she is asked to make a much finer discrimination. she has got these targets which are these little circles with spokes, but all of these targets, there are 60 of them in here are embedded among a field of distracting information. >> rose: yes. >> and when you have more competition you get more neglect. so the greater the competition for selection, the less inattention -- the greater inattention you find in these patients. >> rose: and the definition of neglect here is that the idea that it doesn't -- it doesn't get your attention? >> yes. that's right. indeed. >> it also makes the point that you made of how much we learn about the normal function of the brain. it is amazing. >> rose: yes. >> amazing. in fact, in the old days, as you pointed out all that we really knew of brains came from these guys, clinical neurologists. >> no wonder we were in bad shape.
>> rose: let's talk about the relationship, sort of the global workspace. >> right. so what we know is the areas of the brain that are damaged in neglect involve usually the parietal cortex, or the frontal cortex or the connections between these regions. and particularly in the right hemisphere, actually, corresponding -- in corresponding areas in the left hemisphere are involved in language in the human brain, but these areas are not only involved in selection, so if you get damage to these first areas you can, you have problems with attention and selection, but they are it is areas that have been implicated in conscious awareness, so this global workspace that eric was mentioning that you need to broadcast to the rest of the brain before things become aware, knees areas are supposed to be those critical nodes in broadcasting that information, making things consciously aware
to the brain. what i think is so wonderful about this is we had such a primitive derstanding of the biological nature of consciousness, even a decade ago. and we don't have a profound understanding now, but at least we are beginning to understand, not only aspects of normal consciousness but really subtle defects of consciousness. you can begin to think about them in biological terms. richard -- >> rose: this is where we ask us to help us understand exactly why faces are unique. >> yes. the question is, what is so special about a face? >> rose: yes. >> it is a pretty special thing. there are experiments that suggest that a new born baby at the age of nine minutes will prefer to look a at faces a picture of things, of another object, nine minutes afterbirth. and at a year, will recognize itself in pictures.
so it is quite -- it is quite a remarkable thing. i want to take up something that eric mentioned here which is that the humans are visual beings. and when we start off asking questions such as why, i think we need to back to basic principles. of course, for us that is charles darwin. >> rose: yes. >> and now, what darwin said was that we became adapted to our environment in order to feed and pro create. i abbreviate, of course. and the face, we often forget is an organ for communication. quite apart from -- >> it shows emotion but also speech, also the fact of kinship, knowing who is your
kin, who you are going to fight with in order to get to the food and so on. now, of course these are very basic things, but we can extrapolate them to our life as social beings. so the face is vital to social interaction. we are the most -- one of the most attractive species around. we have an enormous visual cortex, but our, most of our brain is involved in vision, and we are constantly doing it. so the recognition of faces is critical to us. but of various ways in which we can do it. some people are super experts, they can pick out faces like that. others are very bad at it. here is a face. everyone recognizes this face. so a face in a ways, that is the very lowest -- then you have got to try to understand, well what
is happening in terms of recognizing that face as being a particular face? so this is where prosopagnosia comes in. this is where some people find it extremely difficult to even recognize their own face in the mirror. and can even be startled with them when coming to shave. some people have defects which appear to be lying inbetween, the sort of low level getting the first bit of information of the face and the processing which leads you to pick out an individual face. so they can be shown faces of family members and not recognize them but if so many family members are put together they can pick out individual family members, so the context changes the way that you perform. people that have prosopagnosia from leagues are not common. and they often have other neurological disorders, they might have a bit of blanking out
of a corner of the space. they might not see colors properly. so they are getting information which is less rich than the rich information that we have been talking about. but as far as the, the further the information gets taken away from this massive bunch of information that comes in, it is being taken away successfully by other modules of the brain which are designed to help us the recognize the face. so this is what u have seen already on the left, where you can quite clearly see the face, look on the right, it is quite i do see the face, but you can see the -- >> when you said this is a face, i would say, no it is not, it is a painting. because i am more interested in the artificiality in many ways than i am in the reality. >> rose: yes. >> >> which might be worth
inserting here in that i think we have got to understand that the -- this doesn't record anything. the visual system is creating a visual reality. what is out there in physical space, it does not necessarily, it is not necessarily what our brain is creating. what our brain creates is an interpretation of physical space that is going to give us the advantages, evolutionary advantages. >> richard, is making the point if you look at this cup, and i turn it upside down, you have no difficulty seeing it is a cup. that is not true for the face. it is the only object that if you turn it upside down you have difficulty recognizing it. something who is familiar you have difficulty recognizing subtle changes in it. it seems zero to me that the brain devotes more space to representing faces than any other object. it is extraordinary how much. you see all of,patches we discussed before. so what we are going to show you have a very short video.
you need to look carefully. there are two patches on both sides indistinguishable, and there will be a sudden flash and then you ought to pick something out on the left side better than on the right. now let me take you through them slowly, one after the other. so this is what we saw first, the face, it is a face on the left, and this on the right. and the next image will show you the full-scale image. there it is. you can see the -- you can see the face. you can see it is normal. you can see the banana. now as we move on to the last image, we are back at the black and white, the bipolar if you likemages and the face is clearly visible to you now. now the laboratory condition, that little flash could be pulled down to 100 milliseconds. you would have one flash, and that image of that face will remain in your mind for at least the next six weeks if you are
never shown it again. and you see that image again in six weeks time you will see the face immediately. that is how good a learning machine it is. that is a wonderful examine of what is called top down processing. when you look at an image, you not only look at the incoming information but you compare it to previous images that you have seen and part of the guesswork that the visual system does is to see whether or not this is something you can recognize from contact with it before, that is a beautiful example of that. >> it gives you really, as you said before, profound insight into how the brain processes information. >> we have here, a wonderful example -- >> who suffers from this. >> i don't really consider it suffering. >> you are right. and the in no way has it handicapped you from doing, abstaining, doing world class art. how are you doing, kid? >> well it is not so much --
well, i think if i believed in god, i would think a good and kind god gives you something to mitigate for your deficiencies. i don't believe in god. >> plasticity. >> so i find it even more amazing that nature was able to give us that ability to, you know, kind of reprocess all of the information and come up with something else. and for me, it is not so strange that i, you know, made portraits. i was driven to make portraits. i was trying to understand the faces and commit them to memory of people that i know and love, and for me, it has to be flattened out, once it is flattened out, i can commit to memory in a way that i can't if i am looking at you. if you move your head half an inch it is a whole new head i haven't seen before. but once it is flat, in fact,
when you were showing the thing earlier, the flat -- i had no trouble seeing that was a face. because i can see flat patterns of face. i would not necessarily know who it was. and in fact i didn't know who it was, but reading flat patterns is a very, very interesting thing and as i said, before, i was as interested in the artificiality as i was in the reality. it is victorian syntax, it is any kind of incremental way of thinking or writing, you write a nol and you are putting words together and you are not thinking you are putting those words together. and those words become thought and pretty soon you have constructed a mental image of something. i worked the same way. i have broken down the image into -- i am overwhelmed by the whole. i can't make a decision. i have broken it down into small bite size incremental units, and
the -- the degree to which that i can move from incrementally to another adult cluster, stacked up to make something is because i am profoundly interested in artificiality, and that is one of the -- buy i chafed under the term realist, because it denied the other equally important aspect of what i do, which is the distribution of colored dirt on a flat surface, and the more i am aware of the nature of that artificiality and the nature of that kind of activity, and what it can stack up to mean, the more i am able to make something. and that is -- i am -- everything i do is driven by my
disabilities. i was -- i never learned how to add or subtract, multiply or divide. i didn't take algebra, geometry, trigonometry or chemistry, i got through life making extra credit art projects and to show the teachers that i was interested in the material, even though i wouldn't be able to spit back the facts. so i got reinforcement for demonstrating that i had these skills, and it made me feel special, and everyone needs to feel special. >> rose: so help me understand how you see this, that you look at me, what do you see snfnlts i see you. i see you because i see you often. >> rose: yes. >> there is a decay. i have not -- i did not recognize the woman i lived with for most of a year two years later.
>> so there are people who, like you, that have prosopagnosia, but if you butt a little electrode around the finger and major conduct tenants through that finger, this is -- and then an indirect way of measuring emotional response or look at their pupils, you can get prosopagnosia of a certain type, images, of people they don't know and images of people they do know, random fashion, and every time they come across an image of a face of a person they have met before or known or whatever, no, i don't know who it is, no, i don't know who it is, when they come through and one they do know like the woman you lived with, they say, no, never seen it but, they give emotions. >> really? >> this comes back to that original question, what is consciousness and what is not
consciousness? is it, it is clearly an emotional response, not conscious. you knew if you could feel your pulse, programs that could be a clue. by dividing up your visual space into little packets, you thought of a new way of structuring information coming in through your eyes, which allows you to do things, which, but someone has who hasn't thought about it creatively haven't been able to do. >> some paintings take as much as 12 or 14 months and built very carefully, left to right, top to bottom, the same way and type. but the interesting thing is that i am lazy and i have a short attention span. and i -- and i have so many things that would seem to guarantee, i am a slob, you know, i make terrible mess, and all these things would tend to guarantee that i wouldn't make what i make. so you either go with who you
are and just say, make sloppy, quick messy paintings, or you can be in a situation where you cannot behave that way. and in so doing, i over came a lot of my deficits, not just face blindness, but i was able to give myself a situation in which i -- i sit there and i know -- every day is a positive day. every day i add to what i already had. i leave the studio at the end of the day and, i made progress today. so i make my life which is chaotic, which is confusing, in which i don't remember things, and i can't memorize, and yet i found a way that i add positively every day to what i did and i don't have to reinvent the wheel. today i will do what i did yesterday, and tomorrowly do
what i did today and if i just stay there long enough, i will eventually have a painting, well it removes all of the anxiety and although it used to drive me nuts. >> there are several things that you say that is quite interesting. you said to me one time that you never tried to hide your hand difficult cap, handicap so when kids had dyslexia or prosopagnosia they would sit at the back of the room .. and hoped they wouldn't be called on. >> right. >> and you always sat in the front. >> this is the thing oliver sacks was so amazed by, because oliver is much more severely face blind and place blind and everything. his approach was he would sit in the back of the room and hope nobody called on him. my approach was, i will sit in the front and i will go like that. i won't have the answer but i will demonstrate the fact that i
care about the material. and they will remember me as being somebody who was engaged and somebody who cares on the material matters. >> how about animal families. >> oliver remembers people by their dogs. >> there is a famous case in the literature in the literature about that. he was a welsh farmer, welsh farmer from wails wails wales and he .. was prosopagnosia after an injury. but he could go into a field and he would recognize each of its sheep. he would know which sheep he wanted to get and so on, and by the face. and then show them pictures of the sheep he could identify them and -- >> how is it different from
animals? how about penguins can recognize thousand of penguins and they can find their own -- they do similar processing? >> i think. so did you read the thing, i think it was in the times yesterday, it was -- i readed it, there is a group that has now found that wasps recognize otherasps by their facial features. and so the swarm will not recognize itself but they recognize another swarm that comes into their territory they will go for it. >> this is very much, the point you were making before, when kids are very young, they are universal learners and they can learn to distinguish as adults can, thousand, literally a thousand faces from one another but but also learn to distinguish a thousand monkeys from each other. but when they are not shown later on, they lose this ability
and one monkey looks like another monkey. one thing that struck me, and correct me i would like it to be wrong, how you work fits into the history of western art, first there is an implicit assumption which is really not spelled out for the longest time that there is a compact between the viewer and the artist the artist creates a two-dimensional image, no matter what he does it is two-dimensional on the canvas but somehow, because of our visual system works we reconstructed if the artist is at all successful into three dimensions we have the ability to take a flat object and give it perspective. for the longest time, this was really the tradition of western art, the whole ambition was to become more and more realistic, better perspective, more faithful necessarness faithfulno nature but when photography came
along, artists create aspects of reality very well. artists began to explore that and actually began to flatten their paintings and -- and wow fit into that tradition in a very -- >> this is sort of an aside but it may have relevance to what we are talking about because when photography came along it changed the course of modernism. >> completely. >> totally, because painting immediately became everything photography couldn't be, photography was static, long, exposures and nothing could move and if it didn't if it moved it disappeared and it was consistently black and white. the first person to see a red apple must have shocked to see it was black, and so immediately, art went to something very colorful.
and -- >> and then you got broken color that wasn't sharp, like photographs are shark, then you have got movement, like in futurism or different points of view like cube bimpl, one could make a very good argument that photography actually created modernism. >> >> rose: so how do we sum this up in the sense of what we have learned this evening? >> what we have learned this evening is that the brain ask amazingly complex, which of course you have been gathering all along and you can get collective legions on the brain that interfere with recognizing and appreciating the particular precept we are dealing with, either in music, in art, in language, so the brain is so complicated that you can select different parts that can be extrapolations, and the rest of the brain functions perfectly well but translate one
particular aspect into the knowledge that goes with it. >> how does someone that doesn't function well at all, like a savant, who has selective skills like a guy who can drive down a road and he is an english person and he can draw every building on both sides of the road, how many windows it has, be absolutely accurate and yet he can't really -- >> well there is a big discussion about it. some of it fits in with what you say. the savants, the artistic savants have a compromise in social functioning, and they have for example, when you and i look at each other we look at each other's eyes, one of the characters characteristic things about autistic people they look down, they look at your face in a different way so if you track their eyes they do it differently than you and i do. and one way to think about savants, particularly people who paint or draw very well is that
because they have a defect in language and in certain aspects of interaction, other parts of the brain have become powerfully developed, people like yourself who must have had some inborne capability for this skill and take advantage of it and work very hard and become even stronger. and the brain is unbelievably plastic so if you were just to impose these features into each other and you will see that the area that is concerned with these two fingers enlarges in your brain. so if you just do something over and over again, particularly if you are young, that part of the brain expand, so this probably holds for creativity as well. so if you begin to draw and try things, that part of the brain may very well, you know, use that function much more effectively. >> there is an aspect to savants, though that is crippling, and i think -- they lose the filter. i mean, lori is famous nemnist
who could not, not remember, and he was hopeless. he couldn't make a living. >> what you are referring to, they used their creativity, they did, they did in a very productive way, he could fly over a town for 50 to 20 minutes, come back and spend the next four weeks drawing every single building, every single window, every single ornament around the window. it is, with amazing accuracy. >> we do the same with the world science thing. a very interesting test to find out how much people recognize how many images. and there are people like me who, you know, were in a very -- i think i recognize one person. and there are other people that you called super recognizers,
and it was spread throughout the audience where you asked how many people got 20 of them and then how many got 19, et cetera. so how do you -- what happens with the brain that if you are the opposite end of the spectrum of face blindness and i can only imagine that they are plagued with an inability to shed the images of people that they bumped into once. >> this may very well be so. it is true, and obviously because my memory is quite imperfect, is that people with perfect memories are miserable. they feel like their head is filled with garbage because the brain is designed to filter things out as we saw in neglect. if you don't throw things out you have a lot of stuff there you don't really need. so my guess is, they are having problems. >> rose: it seems to me the
essence of what we are saying and tell me if i have not gotten in this is that there is a whole bunch of stuff going on in the unconscious mind. >> that is right. >> rose: that is not communicating to the conscious mind. >> that is right, absolutely. >> rose: and it is one more part of the magic of the brain. >> right. and it is also further evidence about how important unconscious mental functions is. you see everything is processed for us unconsciously and here you are seeing selective defect in this propagation to consciousness. >> rose: so what do we do next time? >> well next time we deal with a diffuse disorder of cognitive function which is alzheimer's disease, as you know, as the population ages, this is becoming an epidemic, so it is thought that anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of people over 80 are likely to have alzheimer's disease and once you get it in the 90 it is percentages may be get higher so we want to
understand what causes alzheimer's disease, how it manifests itself, how it duffers from anal related memory loss, that i not as as disease and, you know, what are the chances of trying to get some really good pharmaceutical approaches, drug treatments for alzheimer's disease. we are going to have people who represent various aspects of it, drug developments that have insights. someone who might be able to come up with some new drugs. >> rose: thank each of you very much. this was enlightening for me and i am sure to the audience at home. thank you, eric to our brain series two, episode four. next time.
>> the charlie rose brain series is about the most exciting scientific journey of our time. understanding the brain. the series is made possible by a grant from the simons foundation, their mission is to advance the frontiers of research in the basic sciences and mathematics. funding for charlie rose has been provided by the coca-cola company, supporting this program since 2002. and american express. additional funding provided by these funders. and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia and news and information services wldwide.